Students from Japan and America Participate in a Joint Taiko Performance in Pittsburgh
The 12 students from Mihama, Aichi prefecture recently returned to Japan after their eight-day program in Pittsburgh as part of the TOMODACHI Ties Through Taiko exchange hosted by the Japan-America Society of Pennsylvania. Upon arriving, the group was greeted at the airport by their host families and gathered for a lunch welcome picnic.
The Japanese students, part of their school’s Taiko group “Rakko,” won third place in the national high school bunkasai competition. They wanted to share taiko music with the community, so they had many performance opportunities throughout the program. Monday through Friday they practiced with Pittsburgh students and Pittsburgh Taiko members in the morning. The Rakko members built up their leadership skills by leading practice warm-ups, teaching the Pittsburgh students their joint piece, and demonstrating pieces from their repertoire at the end of each practice. Through the week, they performed around Pittsburgh including for the Mayor. The culmination of the program was a performance at the end of the week. The audience was very enthusiastic and the students felt proud of their accomplishment. The final piece was a Japanese American “bon odori” that the audience joined in dancing on stage.
In addition to their Taiko practice and performances, both the U.S. and Japanese students enjoyed visiting a number of regional and cultural sites, including but not limited to: touring the historic jail and courthouse where Silence of the Lambs and other movies were filmed; visits to the CLO Academy of Musical Theatre, Cultural Trust, and Opera; lunch and explanation by Conflict Kitchen, a visit to the Carnegie Museums of Art and Natural History, visit and tour of Mitsubishi Electric with Japanese expats, and shopping at the mall.
The Japanese students really gained a lot from this program. Please see the comments below:
“I realized that music is something that really beings people together.”
“I was really nervous at first so I didn’t say much, but my host family and the American kids all talked to me so nicely that I started to try to talk more.”
- For more information on this program, click here